July 12, 2015 02:21PM
Chapter Two.

Next morning, whilst Jane exchanged views with Lizzie on her attraction to Charles Bingley, Lizzie’s good friend Charlotte Lucas came to visit and the discussion soon turned to the extreme differences in manners between Bingley and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Despite comments from others on his handsome demeanour, Lizzie found him of little interest personally and was slightly annoyed at his lack of attention to the rules of dance etiquette in leaving ladies, including herself, without a partner. They all loved to dance and although matters of marriage and acquaintances were ever present at assemblies, dancing was a highly important part of their social scene. She was also more concerned and happy that Jane was so very impressed with Charles Bingley and a mutual attraction was seeming already much in the offing. Jane also brought up the topic of Mary’s view of Fitzwilliam Darcy, raising smiles all round. Mary, herself joined in the smiles at the memory, but she could hardly remember what the man had looked like. She was quietly perusing a copy of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, at first attracted by its unusual title, then intrigued by the thought of being marooned on a desert island with her beloved pianoforte, and perhaps…. but no, she pushed the thought of a tall bearded castaway firmly from her mind with a smile. She had never seen a printed book so lengthily titled as Defoe’s adventure tale….

“The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver'd by Pyrates”

..and bought it immediately. Now, it had become her constant companion. The assembly events, partners and gossip flowed over and around her as unobtrusively as a smooth pebble in a stream, without over much impact, interest or concern. Soon, she would excuse herself to practice her beloved music. ….

Some three miles away from Longbourne , the Assembly and the previous evening’s events were also under discussion in the breakfast room of Netherfield Park. Darcy had somewhat regained his composure, admitting only to himself, that a few glasses of wine had possibly magnified the importance of what had seemed like a mortal insult the previous evening. As he dressed that morning he had even almost smiled at the memory, almost…It had not however, diminished his interest in knowing who the young woman was who found him not handsome enough to tempt her to dance. He knew he was not wrong in thinking of himself as a highly desirable target for a considerable number of single women in the society he normally frequented, the halls and balls of aristocratic entertainment and devious temples of the worship of the golden guinea, populated by a hundred manipulative mothers. Brought up shrewdly by a careful and financially intelligent father, he was also aware that romance was but a secondary consideration to be treated with great care. An inadvertent glimpse of a lady’s ankle was sufficient reason to throw oneself to the ground hiding the eyes in shame less accusations of attachment be hinted at. Any indication of the mildest form of personal compliment must be sure to be made safely from behind at least half-a-dozen stoutly built chaperones. One could never be too careful.

With these facts in mind and backed by his considerable wealth, it was obvious that Mary Bennet –for her name was now impressed upon his memory- could not know of whom she had dismissed so lightly. At the very least, she needed to be made aware of that fact. This should happen at the very first opportunity. Caroline, currently in full flow about the crass and common locals of Meryton, could be relied upon to administer the reprimand. These people were just a temporary amusement until they all moved on. They could not be taken seriously. He should not concern himself about them. They were of little consequence to him. He paid little heed to Caroline and Louisa decrying almost all the locals as beneath their notice. They did, however, agree that Jane Bennet was an extremely likeable person who they would be happy to know better if only she could somehow make her mother and two youngest sisters disappear.

The first opportunity actually took some time in arriving. In company with Bingley and, on occasion, his sisters, Darcy had encountered the Bennet family several times and even dined at Mrs Bennet’s invitation twice. Both of those occasions had been much less than satisfactory as, apart from the fact that he had to readily admit the three elder daughters were indeed quite beautiful ladies, he had formed the opinion that their mother was a somewhat silly and rude person and Mr Bennet decidedly reserved and hiding behind a non-commital half-smile. He had also been denied the opportunity to converse with Mary Bennet as she was seated too far from him for that to happen. Had the opportunity arisen, he could hardly relate back to her opinion of himself as a topic as the moment was long gone, but just hope that she had been made aware of her heresy. . What she might think of him currently still much interested him, but he was also aware that Elizabeth Bennet, second eldest of the sisters, was becoming a subject of quite some interest to him. If he had hoped her to be impressed or in awe of him, he was to be quite disappointed. She had a lively wit, but paid him no more attention than common decency demanded. He had, of course, forgotten his refusal to dance with her at the Assembly. She however, had certainly not.

The two youngest daughters rated no more than a soupcon of his attention as they giggled and whispered rudely at every opportunity and their manners were much in want of propriety. He could see why Bingley found Jane Bennet interesting, although any suggestion of attachment was unthinkable due to the differences in class and position. Looks apart, Jane was a somewhat shy and retiring creature, but her manner was impeccable and attractive. Surely the opportunity to know some of them better as acquaintances would arise eventually? .

At Lucas Lodge, home of Sir William Lucas, neighbour and friend of the Bennets’ such an opportunity finally did just that. He, the Bingleys, the Bennets, the Longs and several other individuals including members of officer level militia, had been invited to a supper party there. His first observation was that, whilst Mary Bennet was not exhibiting much interest in him, neither was she doing so in any of the other numerous males in attendance. No immediate opportunity for conversation with her presented itself as she was constantly engaged in providing a background of excellent but unobtrusive medleys for the host and his guests on the pianoforte. Her musical performance was indeed excellent. He was exchanging some less than intoxicating conversation with Sir William, when suddenly, Elizabeth Bennet was there before him. Sir William immediately encouraged Darcy to request her as a delightful and desirable dance partner, a suggestion which Darcy, whilst somewhat surprised , was perfectly agreeable to comply with. Elizabeth Bennet however, Darcy’s refusal of her still fresh in mind, declared that she had no wish or intention to involve herself in dancing that evening and quickly excused herself before Darcy had time to speak further. In that short encounter Darcy was struck by Elizabeth’s fine dark eyes and more than a little surprised to find he was most disappointed she showed no particular interest in him at all. To a man used to constantly being a centre of attraction in company he found himself confused that two sisters were less than prepared to throw themselves down before him in worship. Dashed odd. He glanced across at Mary Bennet with a view to approaching her location, but was just in time to see her being introduced to a tall, bearded and handsome man in naval dress uniform. He was deeply tanned and the look in her attractive eyes and her appealing smile made Darcy think that she seemed to find the man interesting. He certainly appeared somewhat more than just “tolerable” as he seated himself beside her at the pianoforte and engaged her in conversation.

It was obvious that Mrs Bennet had also been monitoring the handsome stranger with more than a little interest and, seeing him sitting beside Mary, found this too good an opportunity to be missed. Snatching up a glass of punch with the speed and deftness of a Seven Dials pickpocket, she crossed the room, so fast as to appear airborne and arrived at Mary’s side like a moth drawn to flame; a moth with a dazzling smile of surprise, welcome and a burning curiosity.

“Mary dear, see, I have brought you a glass of pu….Oh, and who is this gentleman I see here with you?

Mary gave a small resigned sigh but retained her smile as she introduced the gentleman as Captain John Robinson of his majesty’s navy, recently returned from action off the coast of Portugal, and introduced to her by Aunt Phillips who knew his brother. Captain Robinson bowed charmingly and expressed his pleasure in being acquainted with them both. Mary, knowing her mother’s directness in asking personal and sometimes decidedly embarrassing questions glanced across in Lizzie’s direction with a look that, could it talk, would have screeched “help”. Lizzie saw immediately what might become a problem for Mary and waved and beckoned at her mother. Mrs Bennet frowned, hesitated then excused herself and went over to Lizzie’s side. Lizzie herself was exceedingly surprised that Mary seemed slightly blushed as she gave her attention back to the mariner. This was indeed unusual. Quiet, unassuming and studious Mary showing interest in a man? This was something that needed her own curiosity satisfying at the first possible chance. She found herself quite excited at the very thought. The man indeed was a very presentable specimen and he was decidedly more than a little impressed with Mary. How strange. It crossed Lizzie’s mind just how lovely and elegant her sister looked in the glow of a candelabra atop the pianoforte. She looked actually… radiant! She was also suddenly reminded that Mary was but nineteen and just growing away from the young, reclusive and studious book worm they had grown up with and who had suddenly emerged, almost overnight, into a delightful young woman. This was indeed something for perusal.

Mary, who but a few minutes previously had desired her mother to disappear, suddenly. quite desperately, wanted her to come back and issue an invitation to visit to this man who had appeared almost from nowhere into their presence. To her, John Robinson had just made a statement that lifted him way beyond the realms of all normal men…he loved music and played the violin! Mrs Bennet’s own curiosity was decidedly operating on an exceedingly high level and her early interest in local gossip was suddenly thrust rapidly aside. She must get to work right away. A young and exceedingly handsome man paying attention to Mary? Good Lord, who would have thought it? Looking across at her middle daughter now she was reminded of her own earlier comments as to how well Mary looked. The other two elder girls had never caused her overmuch concern. They were both exceedingly pretty and would surely attract rich men very soon. Kitty and Lydia were too young to worry about, but Mary? This indeed was an event she had never even considered. Action decided upon, she excused herself determinedly from Lizzie and Mrs Long and strode off to attend to Mary’s suddenly dearest wish. A dinner invitation would be issued post-haste.

Standing alone, Fitzwilliam Darcy found himself somewhat perplexed as to the unusual fact that no one appeared to be clamouring for an audience or an introduction. Indeed, no one was taking any notice of him at all. Mary, who had moved away from the instrument, and her mother were talking with the naval chap and even Caroline and Louisa were in conversation with Jane Bennet and their brother until Caroline moved over to replace Mary at the Lucas’s pianoforte. Gazing around the room he found his eyes following Elizabeth Bennet as she walked over to talk with the eldest Lucas girl, Charlotte? She was, he now conceded to himself, a very attractive young woman and his earlier abrupt dismissive appraisal of several of the young ladies present at the Assembly might have been a tad harsh. Bingley appeared to be getting along very well with Jane Bennet, Elizabeth appeared to hardly notice him and the very girl who had found him “tolerable” was seemingly enjoying herself immensely with a naval type. Dashed odd. On the journey home his friends found him even more taciturn than normal. Bingley decided he must have a cold coming on.

Captain John Robinson, former master of H.M.S Fair Rosamund, his latest voyage complete and his ship docked in the port of London until the Admiralty decided her fate, had arrived in Meryton to visit his elder brother, a solicitor in the town. The visit coincided conveniently, if tragically with the news that their father, who had lived alone since the death of his wife some years earlier, had passed away at his home in Luton. They would now travel up there together in a couple of days to attend the funeral and settle his affairs. This sad event, he explained to Mary and Mrs Bennet regretfully, would very unfortunately prevent him from accepting the good lady’s kind dinner invitation at present. He would, he stated, be coming back after all was settled in Luton, though it may take a couple of weeks, to stay with his brother for a while until he decided on his own future. If the very kind invitation could be accepted at such time, he would be more than happy to fulfil it on his return. Mary’s eyes implored her mother to say yes, which Mrs Bennet , though somewhat disappointed at the delay, was happy to do. The event was also somewhat opportune for Mary herself who would leave in a few day’s time for a week’s stay with the aunt of a friend she attended church with. In retrospect, she admitted to herself, she would have been massively disappointed to think of John Robinson at the tender mercies of the Meryton mothers. Hopefully, he would soon return. Mary experienced an internal glow, she now had a face for her fictitious Robinson Crusoe. Four days later, light of heart and with her beloved book packed in her valise, she left on her visit.

At Longbourne the next ten days or so were remarkably frustrating for Mr Bennet. Mary’s absence - and with it the absence of constant pianoforte - troubled him little. Jane and Elizabeth however, he missed sadly. Jane had suffered a heavy cold and with Lizzie was confined at Netherfield due to Mrs Bennet’s foolish insistence that an invitation to Jane from the Bingley sisters, was better fulfilled on horseback than by carriage. They were away for several days due to this, much to Mrs Bennet’s satisfaction and prediction it would eventually result in a proposal of marriage. With a lack of sensible conversation and the presence of only his wife and the two youngest daughters he regarded as the silliest girls in England, the sight of Jane and Lizzie filled him with great satisfaction. Normality, he predicted, would resume. A letter awaiting him was to change his view rather drastically. The letter was from Kent and written by the, unknown to him, cousin who would be the beneficiary of the Longbourne entail, informing Mr Bennet of an impending visit by his good self. Since the entail event would not happen in his lifetime he saw little to be gained by consternation and even found himself looking forward to some entertaining sport at the expense of the writer, one “Reverend William Collins”.


Author’s note. The Baltimore Schooner, H.M.S.Fair Rosamund actually did exist. Originally a slaver called Dos Amigos, she was bought by the navy and her previous role reversed as she became a Blue Ensign slave chaser for the government. This happened a little later than our story, around 1830, and the name is borrowed purely for convenience.

They must have heard about Mary. Chapter Two.

Jim G.MJuly 12, 2015 02:21PM

Re: They must have heard about Mary. Chapter Two.

terrycgJuly 14, 2015 12:27AM

Re: They must have heard about Mary. Chapter Two.

ShannaGJuly 13, 2015 02:22AM

Re: They must have heard about Mary. Chapter Two.

LisetteJuly 12, 2015 10:34PM

Re: They must have heard about Mary. Chapter Two.

PatriciaNJuly 12, 2015 07:51PM

Re: They must have heard about Mary. Chapter Two.

Jim G.MJuly 12, 2015 08:50PM

Re: They must have heard about Mary. Chapter Two.

Lucy J.July 14, 2015 03:31AM


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